If there’s one thing I’ve learned since opening Miss Dream, it’s that you can’t please everybody. A few months after I became active on the site, I started to meet some people who were less than friendly. In turn, I responded by saying and doing some not so nice things which I regret. Despite having apologized for these actions, some people chose to continue to harass me for mistakes I’ve made in the past. It’s the principle of 10% of people managing to take everything said online personally in action. I’ve learned to deal with it.
The article linked above has some pretty good advice which I try to follow in my day-to-day life. For one thing, I’ve stopped trying to please every Sailor Moon fan – I just end up getting dragged in a bunch of different directions, none of which are satisfying to the whole crowd, and in the end I am the one who is the most unhappy because I’m not sticking up for myself. Although I opened Miss Dream up for fans, at this point I really maintain it for my own enjoyment.
Another piece of advice which I try to follow is: “It doesn’t matter how many people don’t get it. What matters is how many people do.” For every person who spends their time whining about me, there are 10 others who appreciate this place. Despite some of the loopy, stalkerish behavior I’ve been met with from a few fringe fanatics, the vast majority of my fan interactions have been positive. I’ve met a lot of really cool people from all over the world as a result of running Miss Dream. I’ve received all kinds of gifts that help me run this project, from book donations and entire doujinshi collections to a custom-built book-binding instrument, server cost expenses, and of course the hours upon hours of time that the staff volunteers to work on our releases.
Of course, there have been more intangible benefits too. I’ve learned a lot about how to interact with other people. I’ve learned a lot from running a staff of some 30 people and keeping everybody coordinated to make our releases on time. I’ve learned a LOT about time management, and how to stay productive here while keeping up with my IRL career and my home life. I’ve also learned how to just let shit drop. One of my biggest flaws when I first opened Miss Dream is that I reacted pretty badly to criticism. The way I handle it now is pretty different; first, I consider if the criticism is coming from a valid source, not just some random hater. Then, I consider if the criticism is something I believe is worth changing. If it comes to fixing a typo on a page or including a translation for something, I’m game. But if the criticism is to shut down a project that makes me happy, well, I’m not going to do that. Most of all, if someone offers criticism that isn’t at least reasonably polite then I ignore it altogether. I’ve learned a lot about how to maintain my own personal boundaries and ignore those who don’t respect them.
One of the hardest concepts for me to come to terms with is the success of Miss Dream. It’s gotten huge. People I’ve never interacted with before in other Sailor Moon communities know who I am and about the site I run. It’s a little unsettling but a welcome change of pace. Of course, this also has its drawbacks: people I have never met before, talked to, or heck, even have heard of hold some pretty extreme views of me based on what haters (usually inaccurately) say about me. It astounds me to read some of the things that people type about a perfect stranger online, simply because they are offended about the way I chose to run my site. A few of the things written about me are such incredulous lies that I have to tip my hat to the author’s creative prowess. Other speculations about my personal life are so offensive that I have to wonder how in the world people have the audacity to comment on what my personal feelings regarding motherhood and my personal relationships may be.
There is a disturbing trend in the Sailor Moon fandom in particular that I think merits some discussion. For some reason, people who are attracted to the concept of Sailor Moon also seem to be attracted to discord and “drama”. Some of the more hardcore fans seem to be so enmeshed in “the fandom” that they believe some of their actions against other fans they don’t get along with are totally reasonable. I don’t think they ever step outside of themselves and think about what they say and do. If they heard people outside of the fandom doing some of the activities they’ve done, they’d probably condemn those actions and think them extreme. But, since Sailor Moon fans tend to exist in a tight-knit hardcore bubble of die-hards, people rarely stop to think about whether or not the actions they are taking are reasonable responses to their upsets.
Stalking is a big problem. I do not use my real legal name online, or with any of the physical communications I have with Sailor Moon fans, ever. Copies of my certificates on the site have been altered to protect my identity; I use an alias on Sailor Moon community websites, and even on my personal accounts on places like Facebook. I am a big believer in privacy for a lot of reasons, but mainly because I knew even before I opened Miss Dream that there were going to be people who would do their best to try to find out all of my personal information. I watched something similar happen to a girl I knew named Lori, whom after she was featured in a Japanese cosplay magazine for her portrayal of Sailor Moon, fell victim to people’s insecurities, jealousies, and became a target for their stalking. People went so far as to find her home address, her places of employment, to talk to her room mates, get them to talk about her, and to publish the intimate details of her past romantic relationships, and all sorts of other nonsense all over the internet as if it were their right. It was ugly, and the stalking got so bad that eventually Lori ended up ducking out of the fandom, probably for good.
Although some people feel that I am being dishonest for refusing to divulge my legal name and for using an alias, I feel completely justified. Especially given the actions of a few lunatics who have, among other things, threatened bodily harm against me and my three year old son, threatened to get me fired from my job, threatened to have my son taken away from me for “being a bad mother”, stalked every single online acquaintance that either me or James have had listed on Facebook to contact them for information about me, James, or our son, attempted to gain my home address, legal name, and other personal information for the sole purpose of destroying my real life. Some people have even gone as far as to try to contact the schools I studied at, the examination boards of places I took certification tests, and to try to contact my supposed past employers to try to “discredit” me. Others join every single place I’ve ever posted at online and spam in an attempt to discredit me. I wonder how the stalkers manage to justify spending so much time on someone they supposedly hate and don’t care about. Their level of obsession with me and their compulsion to research every bit of information I’ve ever posted online is, to put it nicely, the behavior of someone with serious mental illness.
Luckily, since I don’t use my legal name or birth day none of these places have had any idea what these callers have been talking about, and so they have been unable to share any information. Some of the haters have been pretty inventive, making fake e-mails they’ve supposedly received from official establishments that I have connections with, or fake conversations with people who supposedly know me or James but can’t be named. The lengths some people have gone to in an attempt to discredit the owner of a *fansite* are pretty extreme, and would be laughable if it all weren’t so pathetic. Some of the threats made have been extremely outlandish, like the girl who claimed that her uncle, a worker in the Polish Ministry of Defense, was gathering my personal information and was going to “come after me” for refusing to apologize to her on an online forum. (Personally, if I were a high ranking government employee, I’d be pissed to have someone ask me to use my skills on something stupid as a fandom disagreement – and embarrassed to have such a stupid niece.) So it’s a matter of filtering out which threats to take seriously and which to laugh at.
I’ve unfortunately been accused of being responsible for every unpleasant incident to ever take place between any number of fans for the past two years. If someone’s site gets hacked, I must have done it. If people get into a tiff with each other, it’s because I was behind the scenes manipulating the conversation. If someone disagrees with the hater, I must be just commenting anonymously. Between my job, my son, and this site, just how much free time do the haters think I realistically have for them? Truth be told, by the end of my day, when all of my obligations are met, I don’t usually surf the internet because I’m just too damned tired. If I did have free time for myself, why would I spend it reading about the opinions of a few very obsessive people whose thoughts I do not regard as important?
I wonder if these people keep in mind that they are arguing about the translation of a -fictional series-. I’ve definitely met my share of people online who I dislike, but I’ve never attempted to actively sabotage someone’s real life because of a dispute I have with them. What they do is totally out of line, regardless of how angry they are with me over the handling of my website. In any walk of life you’re going to find disgruntled, crazy people, and the Sailor Moon fandom has no shortage. The best thing I’ve learned to do over the years is to protect myself and my family from their prying eyes.
Granted, I’ve done my share of immature and disrespectful things, for which I have been trying to make amends. I’m human and I make mistakes like anybody else. But, the people in question have refused to accept my apologies and have instead made mockeries of them, so I’m not going to sit here and cry about hurting their feelings for something that happened almost two years ago. I’m not the sort of person to stay fixated on the past; I’ve got too many other things in my life that I care about more than offending someone on a forum a number of months ago. If they want to resolve the tensions we have, great. If not, that’s their problem. I’m not a stay at home mom anymore and I just don’t have the time to waste on people who ultimately are not part of my audience, and who are quite frankly not the sort of people I want on my site anyway.
What saddens me the most is that I’m not the first or only person in our fandom to receive these kinds of attacks. I walked into this knowing full well what the potential ramifications were. I’ve shared experiences with many other webmistresses and webmasters in our fandom. Every time I hear the same story: obsessed stalker fan, blows everything way out of proportion when they disagree with you / don’t like you, tries to infiltrate every detail of your life, thinks they deserve to have infinite access to your private information, endlessly whines about you and your site at every opportunity they get. I think that the difference between an experienced webmaster and a novice is how they chose to respond to the flames. I was definitely a novice when I opened Miss Dream and handled things very poorly. But after two years of experience, I’ve learned to (for the most part) ignore the haters, protect my privacy, and keep on doing my thing.
Nothing makes a hater angrier than seeing success. And Miss Dream has certainly become a huge success. We’ve gotten a lot of materials translated while they’ve been wasting time whining. The number of people complaining has increased tenfold since we announced that we finished translating the entire manga – a huge milestone. There’s a saying that those who complain the most do the least, and this has certainly been my experience in the fansubbing world.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I would rather spend my life focusing on what I love instead of complaining about all the things I hate. I just don’t have the room or time for negativity in my life. Not to sound too corny, but Sailor Moon is an inspiration to me to not allow negative people and things have power over me. Sailor Moon refuses to give power to the negative people who come after her in her life, and I refuse to allow negative people and thoughts into mine. Life is too short and too wonderful to spend caring about all of the mean-spirited things people say to try to catch your attention.
I just wish the haters understood this.